Kamila K. De La Fuente
Downtown La Verne welcomed a new vintage-inspired boutique, Heart of Haute, the former home of Sigal Diamonds.
Haute’s grand opening was Oct. 15 marking their first-ever brick-and-mortar in-store retail location.
Heart of Haute is a women-owned boutique that has operated online since 2005.
A mother-daughter team, Teresa and Amanda Becker are the visionaries behind the business.
“The secret to success in a rapid growing, vintage-inspired fashion market is dedication to quality and customer service,” Teresa Becker, who has been in the fashion industry since 1978, said.
“This means staying true to our values and what our customers love, keeping our brand original and continuing to make and put out items that we believe in,” Amanda Becker said.
Amanda Becker got her start attending music events as a teenager. From scotch genre shows to punk shows, a niche demographic for vintage clientele really influenced the way she dressed.
She started collecting, buying and selling vintage. Finding items that needed fixing from a new zipper or buttons, and reselling her new creations on eBay, is how she got started with online sales.
By wearing her designs at these events, it created a demand for her dresses. She distinctly remembers needing help with a zipper and asking her mom, who then saw an opportunity in her work.
“At the time, I had no idea that was going to turn into my entire career,” Amanda Becker said.
She knew exactly how to do the marketing aspect but needed help making patterns and how to approach anything that was fashion and business oriented. She studied music in college with no intention of ending up in the fashion industry and having grown up surrounded by it.
“We’re very excited to be interacting directly with the consumer here in our first retail store after 18 years of doing e-commerce, it’s been a wild ride, ” Teresa Becker said.
Having been completely online, the owner’s project that their annual revenues will rise with the reach of a new demographic and community to sell through a rooted retail store.
People from stores in Switzerland, Sweden, and Australia would visit the company’s warehouse to make purchases when they were on vacation in Southern California, making the boutique a new destination place for them.
But their journey has not been without a few challenges over the years.
They have had to deal with knockoff brands imitating their work, often mass-made in foreign countries for cheaper.
The COVID-19 pandemic also closed a number of the small businesses they used to sell to. This ultimately pushed them to open the retail store.
In response to COVID-19, they had to lay off all of their staff and weren’t sure the business would be able to survive. The brand adapted by making and selling cotton facemasks, which sold out every week for three months.
The owners’ main competitors are Pinup Girl Clothing, Trashy Diva Clothing, and uniquevintage.com, which make similar products but are manufactured in China.
One facet of Haute that distinguishes the store from its competitors is its custom haute service, a collaboration between the brand and the customer. Fabrics set aside pre- and post-production, are made available to the customer to customize their item.
From a vast selection of unique patterns, people of all shapes and sizes can have the fabric cut to their measurements. With patterns going up to size 3x, their styles are accessible to a more diverse community of shoppers. This option has been very popular, leaving customers happy with their one-of-a-kind item.
Far back in the store is the room where the magic happens. From rolls of fabric to sewing machines and cutting boards in this multifunctional space, where everybody has the possibility to find their own unique fit.
In the front circular racks from all kinds of women’s clothing, children, and select male clothing as well. Two makeshift dressing rooms catch your eye with a baby pink fabric and satin ribbons that glide over a customer’s head as they head over to make a purchase.
“Learning how to create a sketch into an actual product for people to buy is a whole new experience,” Isabella Mercado Waters, in-store employee, said.
Watters was a student at Chaffey College where she studied with Teresa Becker in an introductory pattern making class, which led to Becker offering her a job.
“I was so excited to take this opportunity, to take what I learned and apply in a career I felt motivated about,” Watters said.
Putting new student energy and new fashion graduates to work has been an essential part of the evolution of Heart of Haute. Teresa Becker has also taught at Mt. San Antonio College.
Vallerie Garcia, fashion major at Mt. SAC and Heart of Haute employee, has been interested in fashion and sewing from a very young age.
“I’m very grateful to have met Professor Becker, to be a part of her team here at Heart of Haute. It enriches my life while serving as a helpful learning experience,” Garcia said.
She said the transition from online to an in-person retail boutique had made Heart of Haute more accessible to people who may not have known about it otherwise, bringing in new curiosity and local support in a warm and inviting neighborhood atmosphere.
Gailyn Bassler, La Verne resident, started buying clothing from the boutique when they first began remodeling the space.
“I love the space, it goes back to the old-time dress shops but with a modern twist,” Bassler said.
She found it wonderful that there was now a dressmaker in town, where the dresses are designed, cut and sewn locally and always true to size.
“The personal touch the boutique offers where they’re always very gracious and see you as a real person, not just a customer,” Bassler said.
Heart of Haute is open from 11 a.m to 6 p.m on Tuesday through Saturday at 2306 D Street.
Kamila K. De La Fuente can be reached at email@example.com.